Q: How do I know if I need counselling?Show answer
A: There are times in all our lives when we feel sad, confused, angry or anxious. This may be a perfectly normal and appropriate response to our circumstances, and does not necessarily mean that we need counselling. It is when these feelings persist and interfere with our lives that we may need to seek support. Having the opportunity to talk through feelings is believed to be a much healthier solution to problems than bottling them up and perhaps releasing them inappropriately (e.g. violent explosions of temper) or trying to distract ourselves from them (e.g. excessive use of alcohol). Unexpressed emotions have been linked to a range of physical problems such as headaches, skin rashes, sleep disturbances and digestive problems.
Q: How long do people normally see a counsellor for?Show answer
A: This varies according to the client’s needs and wishes. You are not committed to a particular number of sessions, but if we do agree to work together on a regular basis I will usually recommend a minimum number of sessions. We will then hold regular ‘reviews’ to ensure you are getting what you expected from your counselling and re-negotiate the focus of sessions if necessary. Although a planned ending to counselling is always preferable, you are entirely free to stop attending at any time should you so wish.
Q: What can I expect from my first session?Show answer
A: At our first session I usually begin by explaining the way I work and discussing issues such as confidentiality. Most people will then explain the background to why they have come, and what their current difficulties are. Towards the end of the session we will decide whether or not we wish to continue working together and, if so, we may set some objectives and agree the frequency of further sessions.
Q: I feel a bit anxious at the thought of talking about my personal problems with someone I don’t knowShow answer
A: This is understandable and many people feel this way. However, the reason most people find counselling so helpful is precisely because it is offered by a stranger – someone who knows little about you or your situation and has no preconceived ideas about you. A counsellor can therefore be completely impartial, something a friend or relative can never be, because they are emotionally involved. Paradoxically, this enables clients to open up and explore their difficulties much more honestly than they could with someone they know outside the counselling setting. Everything you say in a session will be kept confidential.
Q: My child is being bullied at school. How can counselling help when it is not her fault?Show answer
A: In many situations in life we can find ourselves a victim of someone else’s behaviour and this often provokes feelings of helplessness, shame, anger, worthlessness and guilt within us. Counselling helps to make us aware of where our responsibility ends and where another’s begins. Through counselling your child could have the opportunity to work through their hurt and angry feelings about what has happened, and be helped to work out some strategies for tackling the bullying, some of which will involve you and the school staff. It can thus be turned into an ultimately positive opportunity for your child to learn to handle future difficulties assertively and confidently, seeking support when necessary.
Q: My child’s behaviour is uncontrollable. Can counselling help?Show answer
A: Often when children behave badly it is because they are upset or angry about something, but they lack the emotional maturity or vocabulary to express how they feel verbally. By encouraging them to explore their true feelings through counselling we can work out what is really troubling them, and help find more effective ways to express themselves. In other cases, where there is no underlying emotional cause for ‘bad’ behaviour, working with parents to offer support and new strategies and skills for managing their child’s behaviour can be very effective.
Q: I can’t afford to pay for counselling. What can I do?Show answer
A: Check with your GP to see if you can get free counselling at the surgery. Many GP practices employ a counsellor to see their patients, or will refer you to a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) who can help with mental health problems.
You can also access free counselling through many excellent charitable organisations such as The Samaritans, Mind, Cruse, ChildLine, Adsis. (see Useful Links page for further information).
Many employers now offer free counselling to their staff through employee assistance programmes (EAP’s). Ask at work to see if your employer provides this service.
If you or your partner has private medical insurance, your policy may cover you or your children for private therapy.
We offer group therapy for children, and this can be a very cost effective way to access support for your child if individual sessions aren’t affordable.